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Common Internet File System

Common Internet File System

(also CIFS)

Common Internet File System definition

Common Internet File System (CIFS) is a largely-obsolete protocol that lets users access shared files, devices (such as office printers), and serial ports over a specific network. Under the hood, CIFS is a slightly enhanced version 1.0 of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol released by Microsoft in 1996.

CIFS reached the height of its popularity in the late 1990s/early 2000s, spreading beyond Microsoft Windows to Linux and Unix systems. Unfortunately, the subsequent releases of version 2.0 (2006) and 3.0 (2012) of its parent protocol SMB, which boasted major improvements, rendered CIFS largely obsolete.

See also: distributed file system, server message block, communication protocol, lightweight directory access protocol, protocol conversion, secure file transfer protocol

How Common Internet File System works

  1. To begin, the client and the server establish a NetBIOS session for access to the shared resources.
  2. The client then submits their credentials (typically a username and password) with a unique identifier to the server, where the Active Directory takes care of the authentication process.
  3. If the authentication is successful, the server returns the identifier to the client.
  4. Finally, the server checks if the share name is valid and if the client has the necessary permissions to access it. If everything checks out, the client is granted access.

Further reading

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